I recently took a two day trip to Kumano, a small town in southern Mie Prefecture. The whole area is full of great spots for hiking, photos and driving around. There are at least three World Heritage Sites - all in close proximity to each other, and you can enjoy fresh seafood as well!
I visited Onigajo, Shichiri Mihama and a nearby shrine, and I also visited a few places out in the countryside like Maruyama-Senmaida and stayed at a great hotel, Kumano Club.
Looking at the flyer, I noticed a QR code at the bottom. Following the link provided there, I learned about the campaign details. It seems there are over 300 locations including hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops and more that are participating in this program. They offer a variety of discounts,special offers for people who fill out a short questionnaire at each location. Sometimes a purchase is required to participate.
I saw the flyers in more locations, soⅠ’ll share a few of the locations where I participated in this awesome program, as well as a few really cool spots you have got to check out when you come to Kumano. These include Onigajo, Shichiri Mihama, Maruyama Senmaida and more!
As I came around the last corner to the center, the ocean suddenly came into view. And what a view it was! Even though today was overcast, it was simply breathtaking! There is a free parking lot directly in front of the visitor center, and it’s only a short walk to the center.
As soon as you go inside, you’ll notice a small lounge to your right. There are pamphlets for information on the area available in several languages.
I found the campaign flyer near the cash register and quickly registered. It was really easy. All you have to do is scan the QR code and follow the simple instructions on their website. You enter your email address to register and get a registration link. Answer a few simple questions about your trip and you get a confirmation page. That’s it! And the second time it even easier!
Just be sure to wait until you get to the checkout before pushing the button. Show the screen to the clerk and they will ask you to push the button. And POOF! You get a special perk!!
Just a few minutes down the road, you can find Shichiri Mihama stretching out several kilometers. The beach itself is fairly rocky, but you can get an amazing view of the sunrise here while enjoying some early morning fishing.You can also find Shishi-iwa, or Lion Rock, another world heritage site. Shishi-iwa looks out over the Pacific Ocean, welcoming the rising sun to Kumano, to Mie, and to Japan.
Located by Shichiri Mihama, one of the longest beaches in Japan, Hananoiwaya Shrine is another World Heritage site that is dedicated to a huge rock rising more than 40 meters over the beach. This is one of the oldest shrines in Japan, so be sure to check it out!
While I was waiting for my lunch, a large tour group came in from the parking lot and made their way over to shrine next door. I thought that between the shrine and this café, it’s a rather busy area!
Also, between the udon / rice ball set and a small souvenir purchase, I qualified for a free midarashi-dango snack, thanks to Mie Prefecture’s smartphone perk campaign. Yay!
I spoke to one of the staff members, Ms. Mukoyama. She explained, “Visitors can come here and enjoy the black rice, the shrine, the beautiful ocean - and beautiful smiles!” I confirmed it - she had a beautiful smile!
Set in the mountainous area of Kumano, you’ll find Maruyama Senmaida to be a scene like no other in Japan! With multiple cascading layers of rice paddies flowing down the mountainside, and mountain peaks filling in the background, you’ll feel you have been transported to another lifetime. Walk or drive along the winding roads that lead from bottom to top and get new and interesting angles on the curving fields. Soak up the beauty and fresh air of the mountains while you relax at one of the few viewpoints built near the top.This visit was made during November, 2 months after the rice was harvested so it doesn't look as good as it could, but if you visit in spring or summer, you can enjoy some amazing sites!
Michi no Eki Kumano Itaya Kurobe no Sato
After leaving the cafe, I drove out to see Maruyama-Senmaida, famous for the many small rice paddies cascading down the side of a mountain. It was truly beautiful and you can read all about it in another article, but I afterwards, I wanted to take a break and I found it - and the next Perks Campaign poster at a roadway station called “Michi no Eki Kumano Itaya Kurobe no Sato”.